Monday, January 18, 2010

A map of Van Gogh's London

Did you know that Van Gogh lived in London for a while? I did - but I didn't realise it was quite so long or the places he stayed or visited.
Vincent van Gogh moved to London in May 1873 and lived intermittently in the city until 1876. During this time he is known to have visited, and written about, several of the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibitions, Christie's and iconic sites including St Paul's Cathedral and Hampton Court. He also worked as a teacher, and delivered his first sermon at a church in Richmond.
Royal Academy of Art
The new Royal Academy of Arts website for the exhibition (The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters) exhibition which opens at the end of the week. It has a map of places in London linked to Van Gogh.

These are the places indicated on the above map and links to the letters in which he wrote about those places and his time in London. I've put them into chronological order.

17 Southampton Street: 19 May 1873 – Van Gogh starts working at art dealership Goupil’s in London, for its manager Charles Obach. Lodges in the suburbs (address unknown)

Royal Academy of Arts: Van Gogh visited several exhibitions at the Royal Academy during his time in London, between June 1873 – when he first visited the Summer Exhibition – and 1876.

87 Hackford Road, Brixton:

I now have a room, as I’ve long been wishing, without sloping beams and without blue wallpaper with a green border. It’s a very diverting household where I am now, in which they run a school for little boys.
Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?
  • Early August 1874 – Declares his love for Eugenie and faces rejection
Dulwich Picture Gallery: 4 August 1873 – Van Gogh visits Dulwich Picture Gallery, as he discusses in Letter 12

395 Kennington Road: Mid August 1874 – Van Gogh moves to new lodgings in Kennington at the house of John Parker, a publican (Ivy Cottage, 395 Kennington Road)

25 Bedford Street: 2 January 1875 – Van Gogh arrives back in London after a temporary transfer to Goupil’s in Paris. Goupil’s takes over Holloway & Sons, moving into their gallery at 25 Bedford Street, as discussed in Letter 29

Christies: 24 April 1875 – Van Gogh sees 'Chill October' by Millais at Christies.

Streatham Common: April 1875 - Van Gogh sends a drawing of Streatham Common to his brother Theo, as discussed in Letter 32

Hampton Court: Late June 1876 – Van Gogh visits Hampton Court and praises the Old Masters in the collection To Theo van Gogh. Isleworth, Monday, 3 or Tuesday, 4 July 1876.
Last week I was at Hampton Court to see the splendid gardens and long avenues of chestnut and lime trees where masses of crows and rooks have their nests, and also to see the palace and the paintings. There are, among other things, many portraits by Holbein which are very beautiful, and two beautiful Rembrandts (the portrait of his wife and one of a rabbi), and also beautiful Italian portraits by Bellini, Titian, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, cartoons by Mantegna, a beautiful painting by S. Ruysdael, fruit by Cuyp and so on and so forth.
I rather wished that you could have been there too; it was a pleasure to see paintings again.
114 Lee High Rd, Lee: 17 August 1876 – Van Gogh visits London, including the Gladwell family in Lewisham, as discussed in Letter 88

158 Twickenham Road, Isleworth: 3 July 1876 – Van Gogh moves to the school of the Revd. Thomas Slade–Jones at Holme Court, 158 Twickenham Road, Isleworth. See letter 89 and letter 90

St Paul's Cathedral: 7 October 1876 – Van Gogh takes a walk in the city, including St Paul’s Cathedral, as discussed in Letter 93.
The suburbs of London have a peculiar beauty; between the small houses and gardens there are open places covered with grass and usually with a church or school or poorhouse between the trees and shrubbery in the middle, and it can be so beautiful there when the sun goes down red in the light evening mist.
Wesleyan Methodist Church (former), Richmond :
  • 2 October 1876 – Van Gogh speaks at prayer meeting at Richmond Methodist Church (formerly corner of Kew Road/Evelyn Road). From then on regularly attends on Monday evenings. See Letter 92.
  • 29 October 1876 - Delivers his first sermon, as mentioned in Letter 96.
It was a clear autumn day and a lovely walk from here to Richmond along the Thames, which reflected the large chestnut trees with their load of yellow leaves and the clear blue sky, and between the tree-tops the part of Richmond that lies on the hill, the houses with their red roofs and windows without curtains and green gardens, and the grey tower above it all, and below, the large grey bridge with tall poplars on either side, with people crossing it who looked like small black figures.
This is a list of all the letters he wrote by place and you can pick out the London and Isleworth letters from this.

Tomorrow I'm off to see a preview of the new exhibition at the RA - and I'm very excited!


The Art of the Landscape


  1. I LOVE Van, and I am very excited too as I am planning a trip to the big city to see for myself... we should meet up.

  2. This is fantastic as a resource...I'm interested in Van Gogh's London paintings...wonderful introduction, thank you.

  3. Great summary thanks.
    PS There are some great local developments now happening in Hackford Road inspired by Van Gogh's time here:


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.